Tobacco Use in Canada
Patterns and Trends - 2014 Edition


This report uses data from national surveys conducted by Health Canada and Statistics Canada to summarize the main patterns and trends in tobacco use in Canada, primarily between 1999 and 2012, with a focus on the current year. Highlights of the report are presented below.

Section I: Tobacco Use Among Canadian Adults (15+), 2012

Smoking Prevalence
  • 16.1% of Canadians (approximately 4.6 million) were current smokers.
  • The majority of smokers reported smoking daily (11.9% daily/4.3% non-daily prevalence).
  • The decline in smoking prevalence observed over the past decade appears to have slowed.
  • Prevalence was higher among males (18.4%) than females (13.9%).
  • Smoking prevalence was highest among young adults aged 25-34 and 20-24, at 21.8% and 20.3%, respectively.
  • Despite declining prevalence, substantial differences in smoking prevalence by education level persisted over the last decade, particularly for having a university degree vs. not.
  • There were significant differences between provinces in smoking prevalence.

Cigarette Consumption

  • Daily smokers in Canada smoked an average of 15.0 cigarettes per day.
  • Average consumption has declined by more than 2 cigarettes per day since 1999.
  • Male smokers consumed approximately 4 cigarettes more per day than females. Sex differences in consumption appear to have remained fairly stable since 1999.

Use of Other Tobacco Products

  • Cigarillos and cigars were the most popular tobacco products other than cigarettes: 4.1% of Canadians reported use in the past 30 days.
  • Use of other tobacco products (including cigars, cigarillos, pipe, chewing tobacco/snuff, and waterpipe) was more prevalent among males than females.
  • Roll-your-own tobacco was used at least sometimes by approximately one in ten smokers.
  • Provinces differed significantly in use of roll-your-own tobacco and other tobacco products.

Section II: Quitting Smoking, 2012

  • Six out of ten Canadians who have ever been smokers have now quit.

Plans to Quit

  • Nearly two-thirds of smokers were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months; 3 in 10 were considering quitting in the next month.
  • Similar percentages of males and females were considering quitting in the next 6 months, but more males were considering quitting in the next month.
  • Smokers of all ages were considering quitting at similar rates.

Quit Attempts and Success (Abstinence)

  • Almost half of smokers had tried to quit in the past year. One third had tried more than once.
  • More males than females had made a quit attempt.
  • Quit attempts varied by age group. The percentage of smokers who had tried to quit was highest among young smokers, and appeared to decline with age.
  • Among respondents who had made a quit attempt in the past year, 13% were still abstinent from smoking at the time they were surveyed.

Quit Methods and Cessation Assistance

  • The most common strategy for trying to quit smoking was to “reduce the number of cigarettes smoked,” used by almost two-thirds of smokers who attempted to quit.
  • More than half (54%) of smokers who attempted to quit used some form of cessation assistance.
  • Stop-smoking medications, including nicotine replacement therapy, were used by nearly half (44%) of those who attempted to quit, and use varied by product and by province.
  • One in five quit attempters (21%) “made a deal with a friend or family member to quit together.”
  • Few (<5%) used services such as telephone quitlines or workplace programs.
  • 56% of smokers who visited a doctor in the past year had received advice to quit.

Section III: Tobacco Use Among Canadian Youth

Youth in grades 6-9, in 2010-11:

  • 15.5% of students in grades 6-9 had ever tried a cigarette.
  • 2.2% of students in grades 6-9 were current smokers overall, with grade-specific rates ranging from too low to report in grade 6 and 0.7% for grade 7, to 4.9% for grade 9 students.
    • Smokers were fairly evenly split between daily (0.9%) and non-daily (1.2%) smoking.
    • Similar percentages of males (2.2%) and females (2.1%) were current smokers.
    • Prevalence varied by province, and was highest in Quebec and Saskatchewan, at 4.3%.
  • Nearly one third of never-smokers in grades 6-9 were classified as susceptible to smoking.
  • Daily smokers in grades 7-9 smoked an average of 8.7 cigarettes per day.
  • 7.5% of students in grades 6-9 had ever smoked a cigar or cigarillo.
  • Most smokers in grades 6-9 usually obtained their cigarettes from social sources.
  • Seven out of ten current smokers in grades 6-9 reported ever trying to quit smoking.

Youth aged 15-19, in 2012:

  • One in four (24.3%) youth reported ever having smoked a whole cigarette.
  • 10.9% of youth aged 15-19 were current smokers overall, with age-specific rates ranging from 4.5% for 15-year-olds to 16.7% for 19-year-olds.
    • Similar percentages of youth smoked daily (6.6%) and non-daily (4.3%).
    • Prevalence was significantly higher among males (12.3%) than females (9.4%).
    • Prevalence varied by province, ranging from 8.5% in PEI to over 20% in Saskatchewan.
  • Daily smokers aged 15-19 smoked an average of 11.1 cigarettes per day.
  • 25% of youth aged 15-19 had ever smoked a cigarillo, and 15% had ever smoked a cigar.
    • Gender differences were apparent: 21% of males and 9% of females had smoked a cigar, while 29% of males and 20% of females had smoked a cigarillo.
  • 58% of smokers aged 15-18 usually obtained cigarettes from retail sources, while one quarter obtained them through social sources, and 16% through “Other” sources.
  • Two-thirds (65%) of smokers aged 15-19 were seriously considering quitting in the next 6 months.
  • Nearly two-thirds (63%) of smokers aged 15-19 had made a quit attempt in the past 12 months.